Q&A: Laura Wilson and Keith Perry talk about active shooter situations

In the aftermath of a shooting and lockdown at the UCLA campus on Wednesday, Stanford Police Chief Laura Wilson and Stanford Emergency Manager Keith Perry spoke to Stanford Report about precautions the campus community can take in such an emergency and preventive efforts on campus.

What actions should individuals be prepared to take if confronted with an immediate threat?

Wilson: None of us thinks this is going to happen to us, but we need to have the mindset that “what if?” What if there were an earthquake or a fire? What if there were an active shooter? No matter what type of emergency situation, the important thing is to know where your exit points are and to have a plan.

Perry: The university has many plans and resources in place to keep the campus community safe. There is a faculty-staff emergency guide online, and people should familiarize themselves with the content there. It applies to many possible emergencies on campus.

How about an active shooter situation specifically?

Wilson: If it were an active shooter, if you can escape, absolutely run. If you cannot safely escape, then hide – including putting heavy or solid objects between you and a potential threat. If you are hiding, remaining quiet and silencing cell phones are important. As a last resort, if you believe you or those around you are in immediate jeopardy, you can make the personal decision to fight to try to disarm or prevent an attacker from harming others. The three words to remember are run, hide, fight.

It is also critically important that people follow any directions that police give to them, because specific situations can call for different prevention and safety measures.

Many people here have friends and colleagues who were in lockdown at UCLA for several hours. Is that what would happen at Stanford?

Perry: There are two main protocols we have for responding to an emergency. One is to evacuate and one is to shelter in place. People need to understand how both of those would be implemented in their local area. Where would they go and what would they do under each scenario? If we had a situation like at UCLA, there absolutely would be buildings on campus where people would need to shelter in place until it was safe to leave.

Wilson: From a law enforcement standpoint, any case will need to be evaluated depending upon the circumstances. If there were an active threat or situation, however, it’s likely that shelter in place is a decision that would be made. The incident commander responding to the scene would provide the guidance. Any such decision would be based on the level of threat to the community and the need to take actions out of an abundance of caution.

Individuals would have to make decisions based on their circumstances. General guidance to the entire campus community may be different from someone who is in the immediate vicinity who could escape.

How will the university let me know there is a threat?

Wilson: We will use the AlertSU system most immediately. But we will also use phone calls, emails and maybe sirens or bullhorns. But many incidents happen very quickly and will likely be over before we can even issue these notices, so people need to have a plan in advance and have a mindset about what they would do.

We would be pushing out information on emergency.stanford.edu. People will want to go to that website for information and directions in any campus emergency. All communication will be updated there.

Perry: Faculty, staff and students need to make sure they are registered for AlertSU and that all of their numbers and contact information in Stanford You their directory and AlertSU emergency contacts are current, so that they can make sure they are receiving emergency notices from the university.

What do you do if you are worried about the well being of someone you know or work with, or you become aware of a threatening situation?

Perry: Be aware of people who are suffering from stress or other mental health issues, and intervene. We have a wide variety of resources available for help, and we have response teams trained to offer support to people in crisis.

Wilson: The good thing about the campus community at Stanford is that there are such a wide variety of resources available. People can talk to staff in residences, people they work with, other students, the Office for Religious Life, CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Service), the (Faculty Staff) Help Center or the Title IX office. You can call police even in non-urgent situations, because we can help direct people to the appropriate resources.

Not only do we have resources to help people, but also there is now a requirement that matters be brought to the attention of law enforcement – all violent or potentially violent conduct, such as stalking or domestic violence – there is a requirement that local law enforcement be notified.

How can we get more information or training about what to do?

Wilson: The Stanford Department of Public Safety will provide training in the run, hide, fight response to anyone in the campus community upon request. To request the 45-minute training for your team or unit, call (650) 723-9633 or email community-outreach@lists.stanford.edu.